Monday, July 6, 2015

Fourth of July, 2015, Mustaches and a Freedom Ride

The Bike Junkie and I had several adventures this past weekend. Independence Day happened to fall on a Saturday so we had the luxury of getting Friday off for the holiday. I want to preface this collection of escapades with the fact that I had tooth surgery the previous Friday, was still on a round of antibiotics, and was taking Advil for the swelling and a three-day headache.

Plans for July 3rd started out pretty simple. The Bike Junkie and I were going to head out on our bikes from home about 9:30 a.m., which we did, have a simple breakfast, which we did, then go home and take it easy for the long ride on Saturday until we met family for dinner at 6:30 p.m.
We rode to Newport on the Levee to pick up some books from Barnes & Noble. Great so far, not a hitch. While walking to the bikes I got a text. Friends are in town unexpectedly and want to get together. Since I already had dinner plans we decided to go to the Casino afterward. Needless to say, I stayed at the casino too late, lost too much money, and ended up getting about 5 hours of sleep before the 100 K ride (62 miles) on Saturday.

Newport on the Levee was fun, though. The MLB All-Star Game will be in Cincinnati on July 14th so there are giant mustaches all over town commemorating the Cincinnati Red Stockings from the 1920s. Below is a picture of me standing by one on our Tour de Mustache.
The Reluctant Cyclist
Which brings me to another point – why am I so soft in the middle? Look at me in this bike jersey. I used to be able rock a jersey like nobody’s business. I guess we pass 40, then 50 and bam, no more waistline. One of the coolest things about cyclists is that we all wear bike jerseys for solidarity. Nobody judges another cyclist in a kit. But I must admit I am somewhat reluctant to don the garb sometimes. We can save the long version of that for a later blog.

So day two of the July 4th weekend was the Vandalia Freedom Ride, a 62 mile ride around rural Ohio starting, where else, Vandalia. This has always been such a well-organized ride and this year was the 20th Anniversary. Because it is about a 90-minute drive from our house in Cincinnati and both Bike Junkie and I got five hours or less of sleep, we left later than desired.  I told you my reason for getting to bed late, friends in town. His reason was because he wanted to watch the live streaming of the last Grateful Dead concert, minus Jerry Garcia of course.

Bike Junkie
After signing in and getting our super, awesome technical shirts, we didn’t get started on the ride till almost 8:00 a.m. The first rest stop was about seven miles into the ride. 7 MILES! Who puts a rest stop at mile 7? We stopped anyway because our rushed breakfast was rather lacking of substance. Come to find out, so was the rest stop. Crappy lemon or oatmeal cookies, some grapes and some trail mix. Trail mix was out for me because of the tooth surgery, and because I hate raisins anyway. Bike Junkie thought there were five rest stops on the ride and we figured there would be more food at the next stop, so after eating a couple cookies and a half dozen grapes we left.

Tooling along the back roads, meeting other riders, Hills Angels were close by so we could hear their classic rock music, just a nice day to be out on two wheels. OK, where is that next rest stop? Ah, here it is at about mile 22. Mind you Bike Junkie had put the route into his Garmin GPS so we did not bring a map. Little did I know the instructions stated the route was actually 65 miles due to construction and a detour. This stop, at the Bruckner Nature Preserve, at the top of a steep hill, with a sharp switchback, was nearly out of everything. We had a few more crappy cookies. Good thing I brought two water bottles on my bike. Hopeful for the next rest stop.

We must be coming up on the third rest stop, it’s been more than fifteen miles since the last one. What? Twenty miles? Did we miss it? It has to be coming up soon. How are they going to get three more stops in? Twenty-five miles. Dying. Need food. Finally, at nearly thirty miles after the last stop, we see the rest stop ahead. Cookies, grapes and trail mix. This stop did have some good chocolate chip cookies, but where are the granola bars and peanut butter sandwiches?

So now, about thirteen miles to go till the end, maybe there aren’t five stops after all. We were right. The last stop was at mile sixty-four. WHAT? The ride is supposed to be “about” sixty-five miles. Oh no, you still have about six miles to the finish. More lemon cookies, about six grapes and off we went. Bike Junkie knows how much I hate it when they move the finish line so he stopped talking. It had been a few years since we did this ride and they changed the route going back into the park so we weren’t sure just how much longer we had to go or what to expect. After winding through some streets in a sub-division we turn the corner and WHAM! In your face! A long, steep hill. Then another. And another. WTH. Oh then let’s just jump on this busy road and come back in via the front of the park.

Six hours after starting we pulled into the rec. center for lunch. I was so afraid we would get back and they would be out of food. Hallelujah. Fried chicken, mac & cheese, green beans, rolls, lemonade, yogurt parfaits, chocolate chip cookies. It made the whole 72 MILES worth it, even if we did have to eat alone.

The rest of the day was free. Bike Junkie and I celebrated the 4th of July with a Graeter’s Ice Cream sundae and then spent the evening at home with the dogs.

Were we finished riding for the weekend? Of course not. Sunday brunch at #RivertownBrewing with #wakeandbakebus. Met up with the kiddos and a good friend and the five of us rolled out from home headed to Lockland for some breakfast and beer. It was a very enjoyable Sunday morning, except for the sore bum from the day before and the flat tire Bike Junkie had on Spring Grove Ave.